Monday, 29 December 2008

Praying Paul's Prayers

(Romans 15:5-6) God of endurance and encouragement grant me to live in such harmony with others in the church, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together we may with one voice glorify You, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

(Romans 15:13) May You, the God of hope fill me with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit I may abound in hope.

(Ephesians 1:17-19)God of my Lord Jesus Christ, Father of glory, may You give me a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Jesus, having the eyes of my heart enlightened, that I may know what is the hope to which You have called me, what are the riches of Your glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of Your power toward me.

(Ephesians 3:14-19) Father, according to the riches of Your glory grant me to be strengthened with power through Your Spirit in my inner being, so that Christ may dwell in my heart through faith—that I, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that I may be filled with all the fullness of God.

(Philippians 1:9-11) And it is my prayer that my love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that I may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to Your glory and praise.

(Colossians 1:9-12) I ask that I may be filled with the knowledge of Your will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy the Lord Jesus, fully pleasing to You, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of Yourself. May I be strengthened with all power, according to Your glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to You, the Father, who has qualified me to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.

(Colossians 4:12) May I stand mature and fully assured in all the Your will God.

(1 Thessalonians 5:23) May You, the God of peace sanctify me completely, and may my whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

(2 Thessalonians 1:11-12) God make me worthy of Your calling and fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by Your power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in me, and I in him, according to Your grace God and the Lord Jesus Christ‘s.

(Hebrews 13:20-21) May You. O God equip me with everything good that I may do Your will, working in me that which is pleasing in Your sight.

Compiled by Victor Mason

Sunday, 28 December 2008

How to be Perfect

'For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man.'
James 3:2
To be perfect just say all the right stuff and mean all the stuff you say.
'But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening?
James 3:8-11

The tounge is an indicator of the heart. What you desire is exposed in your words. We speak about whatever makes us happy. If you love God you'll speak about Him.
Get a new heart from Jesus if you don't have one already.

Saturday, 27 December 2008

Driscoll on Cessationism

I'm currently reading Colin Hansen's book 'Young, Restless and Reformed' where he documents the story of the Calvinistic resurgence in the states. Chapter seven is on Driscoll and Mars Hill and as always he has something humorously offensive to say:

'...I had been basically a theological cessationist and a fan of fundamentalist straw man attacks on charismatics... It wasn't until some years later, however, that I came to see the cessationists' interpretation of 1 Corinthians 12-14 as the second worst exegesis I had ever read, next to that of a Canadian nudist arsonist I once did some research on.' (pg 145)
Is that a bit strong Driscoll? Well actually I can see his very clear point. I'm a convinced charismatic thanks to well... what I see as bad cessionist arguments as well as scriptural texts that tell us when the miraculous gifts will cease (1 Corinthians 13:8-12).
Cessionism can be misinterpreted though. I know cessainionists' who have seen more healing's and visions and are more filled with the Spirit than some of my charismatic friends. I'm glad the same God is at work in the whole of the authentic church.

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Santa Claus is Coming to Town

'You better watch out,
You better not cry,
You better not pout,
I’m telling you why;

Santa Claus is coming to town.'

Tonight is the night. He knows when you are sleeping and he knows when you're awake, he even knows if you've been bad or good 'so be good for goodness sake'.

Is the message of Santa good news? It's actually not. Santa works on a basis of merit; He requires children to be good before they can recieve his goodness, he wants us to be nice and kind before he is kind to us. Santa doesn't set us an example he only gives us what we deserve. If you're a bad person then Santa doesn't care about you. Your Christmas will be boring and dull without the moral merit that he demands.

Let Piper explain...

Santa's teaches religion. You can only enter his good books if you meet a standard. If Santa were God everyone would be without hope. He wouldn't let anyone into heaven because no-one is good enough. The good news for us is that peace, joy and love are given by Jesus Christ and not earnt. He says: 'Whoever comes to me I will never cast out' (John 6:37). Christ wants people good and bad to simply accept him. He doesn't require moral reformation or a good lifestyle before loving a person. He sets the standard by loving unconditionally. God's news is good to everyone and anyone who wants it. You don't need to work to get Jesus' blessing. He wants us to come broken and humble admitting that we can't live up to His standards. Christ wants us to take him at His word- simply to trust and recieve fom Him.

'For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.' (Luke 19:10) We don't deserve Jesus and we could never earn him. Christ wants us to receieve Him. 'But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name' (John 1:12).

Have a Merry Christmas!

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Applying Christ to Every Text

Four ways to apply Christ by Tim Keller:

1) Theme Resolution
Certain theme run throughout scripture for example the theme of law and grace. Christ has fulfilled every theme of scripture. Christ met the demands of the law by living a perfect life and brings God's grace to us through His death.

2)Law Completion
This is preaching Christ from ethical principles. Every duty that we should perform has been completed by Christ. Every law points us to Christ because the law says to us ‘you can never fulfil me, you need a saviour' (Gal 3:24).

3) Story Insertion
The holistic narrative of scripture is the message of Jesus. Preach Christ from the story to be considered by looking for pictures of Christ in the text. For example: Jesus is the true Adam, Abel, Abraham….' Every story is about Jesus.

4) Symbol Fulfilment
Every major figure points us to Christ. The non-personal symbols point us to Christ. The entire sacrificial and temple system points us to Christ.

Read my notes from the whole lecture here.

The Westminster Conference

The Westminster Conference is a yearly gathering of Christians (mainly Pastors) for the study of Puritan and historic doctrines. I went this year and really enjoyed it. Jeremy Walker gives a brief summary of the conference; part one and part two. I might upload my notes soon.

Friday, 5 December 2008

Loving to Obey

Below are notes from a talk I gave at Olivet English Language School last Tuesday. Comments and criticisms are encouraged!

Deuteronomy 8:1,6-10
1 “Every commandment which I command you today you must be careful to observe, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land of which the LORD swore to your fathers.
6 “Therefore you shall keep the commandments of the LORD your God, to walk in His ways and to fear Him. 7 For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, that flow out of valleys and hills; 8 a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey; 9 a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing; a land whose stones are iron and out of whose hills you can dig copper. 10 When you have eaten and are full, then you shall bless the LORD your God for the good land which He has given you.

Deuteronomy is a collection of sermons written by Moses for the 2nd generation of Israelites. The situation is like this: the first generation of Israelites have been released by God from Egypt - from the bondage of slavery in that land for as a nation for 430 years to the liberation of serving Yahweh.

Moses led the people with divine authority out of Egypt through the red sea and all the way to Sinai to receive the law. On the way they take a diversion through the wilderness for 40 years, complaining, grumbling and sinning against the Lord. And the Lord wipes the first generation of Israelites he destroys them. This book (the fifth book of Moses) is designed to stir up the second generation to obey God and take the Promised Land by looking back at some of the faults of the first generation.

Why should we want to obey God? What motivates us to obey?
Grace- God free love to sinners like us who don’t deserve it at all.
There are 2 types of grace that make us want to obey God:

1) Past Grace:
In Exodus 20 God says:
“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. “You shall have no other gods before Me….’

God entices the people to obey because He is God and He’s brought them out of slavery. He’s done so much for them. He’s been so good to them. He’s loved them when they deserved His anger.

We should want to obey because we can see change in our life. We hated God now we love Him- God did that! God changed you. We were running to Hell as God’s enemy. Now we can’t wait to get to Heaven to be with our Father forever!

God has given us the Holy Spirit and through the Holy Spirit we get gifts. We get comfort, we get led, we get taught. We get power to kill sin in our life.

2) Promised Grace:
Look at verses 8:6-10
6 “Therefore you shall keep the commandments of the LORD your God, to walk in His ways and to fear Him.
7 For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, that flow out of valleys and hills; 8 a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey;
9 a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing; a land whose stones are iron and out of whose hills you can dig copper. 10 When you have eaten and are full, then you shall bless the LORD your God for the good land which He has given you.

The Israelites were promised Canaan and encouraged to obey because God was giving them a good land, it’s a beautiful land. In verse 7 Moses describes it with commodities that are precious and expensive. This is the inheritance that Christians –not because we’re good, only because Jesus is good!

God’s got a wonderful place for us. He’s prepared it Himself. He’s going to collect us Himself so that we can be with Him forever.
And the best thing about this place is Himself.
We’ll be observing and enjoying His own dazzling beauty forever. We’ll be looking at His indescribable glory forever.
We’ll be beholding our God and making a loud noise of praise to Him forever.

In heaven we have ‘an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved for [us]’ (1 Peter 1:4).
Thinking about Heaven ignites our hearts to want to obey God.

So what is obedience?
Obedience is the proper reaction to Grace. Obedience looks at the goodness of God and says ‘tell me what to do and I’ll do it because I love you.’

The last phrase ‘I’ll do it because I love you’ is really important.
Because If you ‘do the right stuff’ without having a heart for God- a heart that desires God and see God as beautiful then God does not accept what you do as obedience.

Obedience is never outward acts. Everything has to be done with a love for God and a joy in Him. It has to be delight more than duty. Joy is our duty!

The Pharisees obeyed, they did all the right stuff and Christ said:’ These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honour Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me.’ (Matt 15:8).

Obedience is the heart-felt reaction to grace. We love Him because He first loved us! (John 4:19)

In Deuteronomy 7:7-8 God shows His love to the Israelites. He affirms that He is for them.
‘The LORD did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples; 8 but because the LORD loves you, and because He would keep the oath which He swore to your fathers, the LORD has brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of bondage, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.’

God’s love doesn’t consider the ability of a person-
God’s love simply loves for one reason: love! God chooses to love.

God chose to love Israel over other nations God chooses to love us. He didn’t have to-He could have given us what we deserve: Hell- he didn’t He’s gracious and kind.
God chose to love us because He chose to!

The Context of Obedience is Love-
Obedience has to come from a heart of love because obedience is a reaction to Grace.

1) Love makes obedience enjoyable- it becomes a pleasure
Before I was saved I though of obedience as a word that was against me. God was trying to make me unhappy by getting me to obey him.
When I was saved everything that was boring to me became a joy.
His word became enjoyable to me!
Psalm 119:24 ‘Your statues are my delight’.

What makes you read your Bible? Because you know you should or because you love it? Because someone has told you to or because you know that scripture is ‘more to be desired than gold’ (Psalm 19:10)? This book is better than gold!

Jeremiah says: ‘You words were found, and I ate them, and your word was to me my joy and rejoicing of my heart’ (15:16).

2) Love makes obedience liberating – it’s not a burden
‘For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.’ (1 John 5:3).
Keeping God’s commandments used to feel restrictive- they stopped me from doing what I really wanted to do!
Now they are liberating and wonderful- it’s great to obey God and do what He wants!

1 “Every commandment which I command you today you must be careful to observe,
that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land of which the LORD swore to your fathers.

What does God want from us?
God wants universal obedience – ‘Every commandment’
We should obey all the commandments. He wants us to submit every area of our life to Him- Jesus needs to be Lord over all that we are and do.

God wants exact obedience – ‘be careful to observe’
We need to be constantly re-examining ourselves and asking: ‘is this right in God’s eyes?’ ‘Am I doing His will?’

Obedience brings blessing through the promise – life, multiplication, and possession –‘that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land of which the LORD swore to your fathers.’
1) Obedience shows us that we are God’s children
If obeying God is a reaction to grace then when we obey God we are preaching to the world: ‘God has worked in this soul’.

In John 14:23 Jesus says: “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him.’

John 14:15 ‘If you love me you will keep my commandments.’

2) Obeying God allows us to enter into a greater fullness of God in this life.
When we live a life that is obedient in every area we experience more of God.

If we don’t love to pray we miss out on more of God
If we don’t enjoy church we miss out on more of God
If we don’t read and study scripture with passion we miss out on more of God
If we don’t have Christian friends to help and support us we miss out on more of God

Be Careful:
Obedience doesn’t save.
If you’re not a Christian then you need to know that doing the right thing never gets anyone into Heaven – it only gets people further into Hell.
Obedience doesn’t make God say ‘Oh you’re doing well.’ We can’t please God like that. Everything good that we try and do for God is filthy rags in His eyes- disgusting and horrible.
God doesn’t want to see all your goodness because you’re not good. We’re filthy, dirty sinners.

The beauty is that one man obeyed perfectly. One man did everything right in God’s eyes. And the amazing thing is He didn’t do what was right so that He could get to God. He did it so that we can get to God. Jesus Christ chose to give the perfection that He earnt (from His perfect life) to whoever wants it.
You must come broken- admit to God that you can’t please Him- you’re a sinner. Then thank God that God loves sinners and is willing to forgive you of every sin- everything that you’ve ever done wrong in His eyes.

Obedience to God shows that grace is working; obedience never wins God to bless us.
If you put your trust in Christ- if you believe that God became a man and died for you then God is for you. And God will give you power to obey like Jesus Christ did.

The Chief End of God

Q 1: What is the chief end of God?
A: The chief end of God is to glorify God and enjoy displaying and magnifying his glory forever.

Q 2: Who is the most God-centered person in the universe?
A: God.

Q 3: Who is uppermost in God’s affections?
A: God.

Q 4: Is God an idolater?
A: No. He has no other gods before him.

Q 5: What is God’s chief jealousy?
A: God’s chief jealousy is to be known, admired, trusted, enjoyed, and obeyed above all others.

Taken from the Piper message 'Why God Is Not a Megalomaniac in Demanding to Be Worshiped'